Thieves are stealing checks from the mail and altering them with check washing techniques in order to steal from you.
One woman’s check was changed from $9 to more than $9,000 and cashed by thieves. A 95-year-old World War II veteran from Chicago is fighting to recover a $7,500 stolen check. Both checks had been mailed.
“He was drafted at the age of 18. He fought for his country and is extremely proud of it “Theresa Olive, Will Ricks Srdaughter, .’s stated
Ricks, of Auburn Gresham, served in the Army during WWII. He is now 95 years old. US Bank sent him a $6,300 refund check, but he and his family claim it was stolen from the mail and cashed by thieves two years ago.
“It’s my money,” Ricks declared.
“We’ve been fighting since March 16, 2019 to get his money back,” Olive said.
The family reported the theft to the Federal Reserve and US Bank. The bank sent them a copy of the check, proving that it was cashed.
“We find out that it’s been cashed out of state,” Olive explained. “It had a forged signature on it. And, at the age of 95, there’s no way he’d travel out of state to cash that check at a Walmart.”
The claim is still pending, according to US Bank, as the bank gathers more information from Ricks.
“I just want them to refund his money. Allow him to rest in peace “Olive stated.
Mail theft incidents, such as mail box thefts and postal carrier robberies, have increased across the country. Since the beginning of September, 39 members of the Chicago branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers have been robbed of mail and mail box keys.
The I-Team reported in February that local post office mail boxes had been broken into, mail had been dumped in the garbage by letter carriers, and mail had been burned on a grill.
Joyce Goldenstern, of the South Loop, claims that in July, someone stole her check from the mail and doctored it, a practice known as check washing.
“They whited out the name and the amount,” she explained. “The $9.12 cents were changed to $9,900. It’s my retirement savings.”
She noticed the nearly $10,000 missing from her account right away, filed a police report, and called her bank, Fifth Third Bank. According to her, the presumed thief deposited the altered check using the thief’s bank’s phone app.
“Their software didn’t check it and my bank didn’t clear it by me, because I never write checks for that amount, that much,” Goldenstern explained.
According to her, Fifth Third Bank told her that the investigation and refund would take about six months.
A spokesperson for Fifth Third Bank said the funds were returned to Goldenstern about a week after the I-Team alerted them.
Fifth Third also stated that it is committed to assisting customers in avoiding fraud and encourages them to use online or mobile payments instead of checks.
“What we’re seeing right now is an increase in check washing scams,” FBI Special Agent Siobhan Jonson said.
According to Johnson, criminals can easily change and cash checks.
“First and foremost, when you mail a check don’t put it in your home mailbox if you have the option of going directly to the post office and dropping it off there,” she advised. “The most basic is as easy as going to the supermarket and purchasing a $3 antifraud pen. You buy those pens with special ink and they make it so much more difficult to wash the ink right off the check.”
Johnson also advised avoiding the blue target boxes. Goldenstern stated that she mailed her check in this manner.
According to the United States Postal Service, it delivers over 150 billion pieces of mail each year, and sending mail is one of the most secure ways to send information.
Customers should keep an eye on their accounts and notify law enforcement and the Postal Inspection Service if they suspect mail theft.
- Do not allow incoming or outgoing mail to pile up in your mailbox.
- Remove mail from your mailbox as soon as it arrives, especially if it contains checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items.
- Deliver incoming mail to a Post Office facility.
- Contact the issuing party as soon as possible if you do not receive a check or other valuable mail.
- Enroll in USPS Informed Delivery to get a better idea of what mail you can expect to receive each day.
- Monitor your financial accounts and credit profiles for any fraudulent activity, even if you are not a victim of mail theft, and report any suspicious activity to your financial institution as soon as possible. Early detection is critical! Consider credit freezes with the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax).
- If a Postal customer becomes a victim of mail theft or identity theft as a result of mail theft, they should immediately notify local law enforcement as well as the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455, and closely monitor their financial accounts and credit profiles to stay ahead of any fraudulent activity.
- The FBI claims that all of your information is on the bottom of your check. It is not as safe as you believe. The routing number, as well as the number of your bank account, are all being used.
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